Kingly upgrade: Calumet High School weight room receives needed facelift

CALUMET — Over the course of the 2018-19 school year, the Calumet Copper Kings sports teams have shown some incredible performances, whether it was the football team going 9-0 in the regular season or the hockey team winning the Great Lakes Hockey Conference and playing for the regional title or the boys basketball team getting to the district title game. While much of that is due to the quality student athletes the high school produces, some of it is due to the facilities those athletes get to use on a regular basis.

Josh Frantti, who returned to the school he grew up in, is now a physical education teacher and an assistant coach with the football and hockey teams. In walking around the school he held dear in his heart, he discovered something that he felt he could sink his teeth into.

The weight room in the high school was showing its age. While the machinery still did the job it was intended for, much of the equipment, which had been donated, was older and also becoming unsafe due to that age and heavy use. Frantti searched for a solution to help the Calumet students be able to weight train with better and safer equipment.

“(In) part of my classes, we go into the weight room, and I am a coach so, obviously, the weight room is a big part of any success you have in athletics,” he said. “When I first got here…what we had was good equipment. It was usable, but it was outdated. I felt it was needed to have some kind of an upgrade, one to kind of freshen things up and two to catch up with what other programs are doing now.”

Frantti did his due diligence on the project. He studied the setups colleges had, as well as other high schools, in an attempt to make the best choices for the school. Once he was determined to make a change, he brought his idea to athletic director Sean Jacques.

Jacques told Frantti to go get a quote on equipment, which he did, but not before discussing his idea with the coaches whose athletes would be using the room to train.

“I talked to (John) Croze, the basketball coaches, (Dan) Giachino, just to try to get everyone’s perspective on what they wanted,” Frantti said. “It just went from there.”

Once he had a total, Frantti brought his idea back to Jacques with a price tag. Given that the school was going through preparations for a bond proposal for improvements to various athletic facilities, Jacques suggested they go a different route to fund the weight room.

“I said, ‘Let’s bring it to the booster club and see what they say,'” said Jacques. “The booster club works their butt off. They work really, really hard at raising money. They were in a position to do so. I brought it to them and said this is what we were thinking and I asked them, ‘Would you support it?’ and they did.”

Frantti had spent over a year building up his research into the upgrades and finding costs. With the help of the booster club offering up $60,000, the room became a reality.

For the booster club, the decision to step in and help fund the idea was right up their alley.

“The booster club is continually looking for ways to make money,” said Christine Voelker, member of the Calumet All Sports Booster Club. “We have four pretty solid fundraisers that we do every year… Our goal every year is try to raise $20,000 to $30,000 a year.

“At the end of the school year, Sean Jacques comes to us with a wishlist and it allows us to fund uniforms, equipment, hockey gloves, footballs, etc.”

Voelker is very proud of how the community around the Calumet High School comes together to support the student athletes.

“No matter what you are asked, or what you are asking of people, there is just this sense of pride,” she said. “You see your kids on the field, I had three boys who all went to Calumet… When they step on that ice, or when they step out on that field, you want them protected and you want them dressed in the best equipment.

“I think for many, even grandparents, they still have a pride in being from Calumet. I think people are proud of that.”

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